The Ultimate Guide To SEAL/SEALP ACER HAST (Higher Ability Selection Test) in 2020

A Select Entry Accelerated Learning Program is a once-in-lifetime chance to give your child the education they deserve.

Learn how a SEAL program (SEALP) can help your talented child reach their potential. Find out what it takes to get a SEALP spot and what to expect from the ACER HAST test (format, number of questions and time limit).


What is SEAL/SEALP? Find out more about the benefits of this special learning program.

Select Entry Accelerated Learning Programs (SEAL or SEALP) are enrichment programs designed for academically gifted and talented students who can work at a much faster pace than their peers. SEAL/SEALP allows high achievers to accelerate their academic studies and because of this, offers a more engaging and challenging learning environment compared to a standard classroom.

Here are some of the benefits of the SEAL program:

  • SEAL programs offer much more flexibility for students in their senior years. Your child can complete Years 7-10 in 3 years and get a chance to take on a university-level subject in their final year.
  • SEALP gives your child a unique chance to learn alongside like-minded peers of a similar level. Everyone in the class is motivated and eager to learn.
  • Your child will learn more in-depth content in such areas as Maths, Science, English, and Humanities with an emphasis on high-order thinking skills and independent learning.
  • Thanks to the skills gained during the program, SEAL program students generally perform well achieving ATAR scores of 90 or above.
  • SEAL programs run in public schools, which means that your child gets an outstanding education entirely free of charge (in most cases).

SEAL programs are generally available across 39 public high schools in Victoria and many start from Year 7.

To learn more about the difference between SEAL/SEALP, selective schools and scholarships, check out the information here.



Will my child qualify for the SEAL program?

The SEAL program can be extremely rewarding for students who perform much higher than their peers in a variety of subjects.

Have you noticed that your child:

  • is quick to understand new concepts?
  • gets top marks at school tests and finds homework easy?
  • is mature and independent for their age?
  • displays high motivation and curiosity for learning new things?
  • manages to keep up with a variety of interests and hobbies?

In such a case, you should consider applying for a SEAL program.

How to get a SEAL program or SEALP offer in 2020 when sitting an ACER HAST: Requirements & challenges

Getting into a select entry accelerated learning program is getting harder every year.

Not only does the Department of Education set limitations on student capacity, but as more and more parents discover the benefits of a SEAL program/SEALP, the competition gets tougher.

As a result, some schools have either stopped the SEAL program intakes or devised stricter rules for the applicants. Keilor Downs College, for example, now only accepts applications from students living within a 5km radius from the school.

Due to limited spots and stiff competition, your child needs to show excellent NAPLAN grades and participate in a range of extracurricular activities. Plus, it's no longer enough to do great in the SEAL ACER Higher Ability Selection Test.

Your child needs to ACE it.

If you've decided to apply for a select-entry accelerated learning program, be sure to check schools that offer SEAL/SEALP spots and their requirements for entry. You can see the list of schools providing SEAL/SEALP programs here (for your convenience, we've categorized them according to the exam body) or through the official website of The Academy of Accredited SEAL Schools (TAASS).



What score do you need in order to pass the SEAL ACER HAST exam & get a spot in your dream school?

With gifted and talented exams, the cut-off marks vary from year to year. This is because your child's performance is compared against other applicants.

Below are diagrams of REAL students that show how competitive your child's test performance should be in each of the subtests of the ACER HAST exam to get a SEAL /SEALP offer.

You'll see that your child's performance needs to be in the top 15% or better in ALL subtests in order to feel more confident of receiving a school offer.

A few things to note:

  • It's not enough to get an exceptional mark in one subtest but lag behind in the other. Your child needs to score in the top 15% range with at least one subject in the top 10%.
  • Writing is as important as other parts of the test. Even if your child got a "superior" grade in other areas, they are highly unlikely to get a SEAL/SEALP offer with a poor score in writing.
  • To get the SEAl/SEALP spot, your child needs to perform better than other applicants. Effective preparation for the ACER HAST exam can be a decisive factor in whether your child gets the offer or not.



What's in a SEAL/SEALP (ACER HAST) Year 7 exam? See test format, number of questions, and time limit.

The ACER Higher Ability Selection Test (HAST) for the SEAL program consists of 4 parts: mathematical reasoning, reading comprehension, abstract reasoning, and written expression.

Unlike the SEAL Edutest exam (are you sitting an Edutest exam instead of ACER HAST? If so, go to the Edutest SEAL/SEALP page), ACER HAST heavily relies on reasoning skills. Its aim is to test your child's innate abilities and future potential rather than check what they've learned at school.

ACER has previously stated that questions may differ from the traditional school curriculum. And… from our students’ experiences, the difficulty level is much higher (about 1 - 2 grade levels higher) than your child's current year level.

Here is an outline of each part of the ACER HAST exam along with the number of questions and the time limit.


Mathematical reasoning


Number of questions: 30 multiple choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 40 minutes
Time per question* ~ 80 seconds

Make no mistake. Mathematical reasoning is not Maths. The purpose of mathematical reasoning questions is to test your child's problem-solving skills and logical thinking rather than their knowledge of mathematical concepts and formulas. That said, your child will need to brush up on basic algebra such as equations, fractions, reading graphs to boost their score.

The questions in this section are generally not straightforward. Your child will need to think about HOW to solve the problem and which Math operations to apply to arrive at the correct answer.

Here's an example of a question you might get (this is an Exam Success question developed for our online teaching test bank):

Kai wants to purchase artwork for his wall. His wall is 240 metres high and 360 metres wide. The perfect sized artwork would cover three-quarters of the width and two-thirds of the height of his wall. What is the perfect sized artwork to purchase (height x width)?

a) 2.7 m x 1.6 m
b) 2.4 m x 1.8 m
c) 180 cm x 240 cm
d) 160 cm x 270 cm
e) None of these

Got the answer? It’s D. Learn how to answer these questions quickly and correctly in our test bank with expert video solutions.

Reading Comprehension


Number of questions: 40 multiple choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 45 minutes
Time per question* ~ 67 seconds

In this part, your child will be presented with a range of passages and asked to answer multiple-choice questions based on the information from the text.

The passages can be drawn from such genres as fiction, poetry, non-fiction narratives, historical chronicles, autobiographies, scientific articles and the like.

Contrary to popular opinion, reading comprehension is rarely about extracting factual data from the text. Among many things, it tests your child's ability to:

  • Deal with unfamiliar information quickly and accurately
  • Understand the meaning of words in context
  • Make logical inferences

Some of the more trickier reading comprehension questions will test your child’s ability to:

  • Distinguish between subtleties in tone such as ‘frustration’ versus ‘irritation’.
  • Detect sarcasm or jokes in texts.
  • Understand why a writer chose a particular structure over another.
  • Infer the setting of a text from a number of clues.

Reading comprehension questions are often tricky. So, the most important tip to remember is to always read all answer options and choose the one that fits best. Wanting more tips on reading comprehension? Check out this in-depth reading comprehension guide.

Abstract Reasoning


Number of questions: 30 multiple choice questions
What’s the time limit*? 30 minutes
Time per question* ~ 60 seconds

This part examines your child’s ability to reason with visual problems such as images and diagrams, as well as how fast they can think strategically when dealing with new information.

There’s not much language content in this part, which is good news if English is not your child’s first language.

At first glance, abstract reasoning questions may look illogical and chaotic. In reality, all of them follow a pattern that your child needs to uncover.

Practicing abstract reasoning questions before the exam is the key, but there are also useful time-saving strategies that can help your child uncover the pattern quickly and easily. Check out our abstract reasoning guide full of tips and tricks.

Written Expression


Number of questions: 1 prompt
What’s the time limit*? 25 minutes
Time per question* ~ 25 minutes

The written part of the ACER HAST requires your child to write a written expression piece based on a statement, picture, or a combination of the two. The type or genre of writing is quite open - for example, the question could request that you write a story, a description, an explanation, an opinion piece, a persuasive piece and more.

A very important point to note is that many parents think that if their child's spelling and grammar is on point, that they’ll get high scores. Not true! Nearly all students going for a SEAL/SEALP program will have good grammar and spelling, so it’s content (i.e. the thought and what’s being said) which really makes a big impact.

Want help in this challenging area? We cover coaching to help your child with writing in our writing improvement program - writing club.

*The number of questions and time limit have been estimated from the ACER HAST Candidate Information Bulletin and other publicly available information. Please note that the authoritative body can change the number of questions and time limits from year to year so please refer to their websites for the most up to date information. Time per question is calculated by taking the time limit divided by the number of questions.

Help your child tackle even the hardest ACER HAST questions with ease.

There are a few sample questions by ACER that you can download from the ACER website. However, the problem that many students and parents have found out later is that the questions that ACER may provide as practice are much easier than the ones in the real exam (it makes sense, they produce exam questions so they're not going to give you the same ones they get paid to produce by schools!).

Most importantly, they don't give you the secret recipe on 'how to answer the question'.

But... we do!

Every test bank question comes with an expert video solution that takes you step-by-step on how to answer the question in 5 steps or less. And, our courses and programs are designed for your child to understand the strategy behind answering questions successfully.

See the available test prep designed for your child’s success now.


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Don't know what courses or test papers to choose for your exam? Check our course and test paper selection guide based on your exam .

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The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST
Bundle Deal
5 Courses Package

Customise your competitive test prep and save $$$ for ultimate exam success.

What's Included:

  • Your choice of 5 individual courses: 80+ hours of content learning, 850+ test-like questions with in-depth explanations, final mock test, our proprietary exam strategies and shortcuts, score reports, timed and untimed practice mode. Don't know what courses or test papers to choose for your exam? Check out our course and test paper selection guide.
  • Free writing boost bonus (valued $100+) in the form of expert scoring and customised expert video feedback on 5 of your essays. This is the best way to get maximum writing improvement in a short time frame. See an example of scoring and expert video feedback on a real essay.

After purchase, you gain immediate access to your course for 6 months to get a head start on your test prep.

Don't know what courses or test papers to choose for your exam? Check our course and test paper selection guide based on your exam .

$AU454.30
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST
Reading Comprehension Test Preparation Online

Practicing reading skills is essential for competitive entrance exams, such as scholarships, selective schools, and NAPLAN literacy. And with our online course, practice has never been easier.

Learn the ins and outs of reading comprehension questions, find out how to answer them accurately, and discover score-boosting strategies to approach different texts, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Lastly, give your verbal skills a workout with a final test that includes a variety of passages with questions and answers.

The course is designed for students in Year 5, Year 6, and Year 7, but can be used for general reading improvement in Year 8 and Year 9.

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After purchase, you gain immediate access to your course for 6 months to get a head start on your test prep.

$AU163.77
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST

Narrative Writing - Written Expression Test Preparation

Written expression is the hardest part of any exam.

It doesn’t have to be!

This online narrative writing course (narrative writing is part of creative writing) will introduce you to a step-by-step process of writing top-notch essays so you can ace your NAPLAN, get scholarships and gain entry to selective schools – regardless of your experience.

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The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST

Mathematics (Maths) Test Preparation Online Grade 7 Entry

Got a competitive entrance exam or NAPLAN numeracy test coming up? Set yourself up for success with our online Maths course!

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Great for:

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After purchase, you gain immediate access to your course for 6 months to get a head start on your test prep.

$AU163.77
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST

Persuasive Writing & Discussion Written Expression Test Preparation

You can be a grammar whiz and an A+ student. But without good written expression, you're unlikely to succeed in NAPLAN and entrance exams for selective schools and scholarships. This persuasive & discussion writing online course everything you need to refine your argument skills and become a more confident writer.

Throughout the course, we'll focus on a variety of topics such as generating ideas, essay structure and argument development. We'll look at real-life examples and sample essays to discover powerful persuasive techniques that will take your piece from good to great and improve your grade.

Finally, you'll practice with a variety of test-like prompts to build a rock-solid writing routine and conquer your exam.

This course also includes complimentary expert scoring (using our unique 52-point scoring system) & expert video feedback on 1 of your essays - you can see an example of scoring and expert video feedback on a real essay here.

Great for:

  • NSW HSPT
  • Academic Assessment Services scholarship and selective school exams
  • ACER scholarships and selective schools exams like Perth Modern, WA GATE and Brisbane State High School.
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After purchase, you gain immediate access to your course for 6 months to get a head start on your test prep.

$AU175.99
The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST


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